Once slated for closure due to budget cuts, the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology and its clinics will remain open in Knoxville, although its administration has been transferred to the UT Health Science Center College of Allied Health Sciences.
The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees in October 2008 approved the shift, which was then OK’d by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
The Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology was one of three programs recommended for phased closure by the Knoxville campus administration in response to an $11-million budget cut for 2008–09.
At Interim Chancellor Jan Simek’s request, the Board of Trustees in June agreed to table the matter to allow the campus and system more time to study the issue and address concerns raised by faculty members, patients, and the public.
A group representing the president, the chancellor, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Audiology and Speech Pathology Department, the UT Health Science Center, and others proposed the new arrangement after studying alternatives that would allow the program to continue to meet the educational and clinical needs of Tennesseans.
For UT Knoxville, cost savings will be realized because the department will no longer be part of the College of Arts and Sciences.
To help the UT Health Science Center with front-end costs, UT Knoxville will use proceeds received under the 1999 UT Hospital Lease and Transfer Agreement with University Health Systems Inc. The board approved a resolution to use that source of funds.
Memphis officials say they plan to aggressively seek alternative sources of revenue to support the department’s needs. Ken Brown, executive vice-chancellor and chief of staff at the Health Science Center, said the program will be a great asset for UTHSC.
“The addition of the speech and audiology program to the College of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center not only serves to strengthen the college as we recruit for a new dean but also serves to facilitate our statewide presence in the delivery of clinical care, community service, research, and education,” he said.
Simek said the changes are good for everyone.
“It’s more appropriate for the audiology and speech pathology program and its clinical programs to be a part of the College of Allied Health Sciences at UT Health Science Center. This plan offers an increased potential for graduate work and increased opportunities to provide much-needed services to communities around the state,” he said.
As for undergraduates, those who declare their majors in audiology and speech pathology by August 2010 will be able to complete their degrees. After 2010 all courses will continue to be offered through UT Knoxville’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, and students will be able to earn a degree in special education with an emphasis on communication sciences and disorders. Students also can take these courses as prerequisites to graduate work or as components of other majors.